How many weddings have we been to when we heard the passages of 1 Corinthians 13? At every wedding we hear, “Love is patient, love is kind…” but let’s consider what it means theologically. Notice:
2* And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
So this passage is saying that a person can have great faith but without love, they would have nothing. Therefore, we can know that love does not spring forth automatically as a mandatory consequence of faith. One must choose to act on their faith in love. But what is the type or kind of love Paul is speaking of? Notice the next verse:
3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
So love is not giving all of your money to charity or even being martyred. What then is it?
4 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; 5 it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
The Church defines this type of love as supernatural charity. It is the patience to help others, to spend time and to be humble. It is the love that makes you willing to step back to let others get credit but also to be ready to step forward and endure hardship for others. It is to will and desire the good of another and to pray for them. Supernatural charity is loving others not because you are in a relationship with them but because you are in a relationship with God and God loves them so by extension you love them as well. Supernatural charity is bringing to life the second half of that equation; it is being God’s love on earth to other people. This is why Paul can say:
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Today, here on earth we can and must have faith, hope and love abide. However, in the next life faith and hope will pass away. We won’t need faith because we will know. Similarly, we won’t have hope we will have certainty. What we will be left with then is love.